Archive for Thursday, June 21, 2007

Grossner given own Lambeau office

June 21, 2007

Mike Grossner has an office at Lambeau Field, unofficially.

On his second trip to Green Bay, Wisc., the Baker University football coach once again took over an office in the historic stadium. It was his second straight year to visit Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, a Baker alumnus and teammate of Grossner's.

"He gave me the same office," Grossner said of McCarthy. "They even joked and said I was the only guy that uses that office. They might put a name plate up for me, too."

Grossner's Lambeau office even had a central location near the head coach. That made it easy for the former Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College teammates to communicate with each other.

"It's directly connected to Mike's office," Grossner said. "You walk through the door to leave his office and then you enter the office I was in. Then you walk through the office I'm in and it's their coaches conference room."

The office was even equipped with a nice television and system for looking at football clips.

"It's a great office with a computer and plasma TV on the wall," Grossner said. "All of their editing system is connected to the plasma TV. It's just a nice set up for a coach to come in and be able to sit there and dissect football. It's not like everybody is walking through there. It's a great place to sit and dive into football for three days. I called it the cave, but it's very nice."

Grossner's second expedition to Wisconsin had similar goals as the first. His reasons revolved around football, of course, and visiting an old friend who has moved up the ranks of the National Football League.

"My goal going in was to say hello to Mike and the people that I have met there and experience the Lambeau experience again," Grossner said. "But number two, was to dive into some football and really learn some stuff. Hopefully, I stayed out of his hair and didn't become a nuisance. I am fine with an office, computer and film."

Grossner arrived in Green Bay in early June and stayed for three full days. The two head coaches frequently talk on the phone to each other, but the face-to-face visits are much more personal.

The BU coach stayed at McCarthy's house during this trip. He also stayed there last year, but hardly had time to talk to his friend, because McCarthy was hired a few months prior.

Although he knows his friend hardly has time to visit, Grossner said the two coaches were able to spend some quality time together this year.

"Last year, it was just so hectic with myself and other coaches," Grossner said. "This year was a better situation as far as being able to relax. I really enjoyed it."

He also knows his friend is slightly more relaxed this summer, because he has one solid year under his belt. The Packers finished last year with a record of 8-8 after going 4-12 the year before.

"Mike is more at ease, being in his second year," Grossner said. "They had a good year and he has met or exceeded their expectations at this point. So, it's nice to see him in a less stressful nature, even though he is still a day behind and an hour short everyday. Their team looks ready, though, and that was exciting to see."

During his three-day trip, Grossner watched every minute of the Packers' practices. He would travel to the practice facility with McCarthy. Those short drives are events he feels privileged to experience.

"It's about the neat little experience that the common person doesn't get to experience," Grossner said. "There are times I ride over to practice with Mike in his SUV. The normal guy doesn't understand what an honor it is to ride the elevator to the bottom of Lambeau, jump in the SUV with the head coach, drive over to practice and get to see the interactions between the people is neat. To be able to stand on the field, 10 feet from a hall of fame quarterback and watch him practice is incredible."

Watching Packers' quarterback Brett Favre was one of the best experiences Grossner had in Green Bay. He loved the way Favre practiced and enjoyed the game.

"The unique thing about him is he has more fun during practice than anybody else on that football team," Grossner said. "He is slapping people on the butt when they're not looking and leading them as he normally does, but he's having fun, which is something I think people forget about the sport. It is a game."

Although Grossner knows it's a game, he also knew he had work to do while in Green Bay. He could have watched Packers' practice forever, but he traveled to Wisconsin to learn about the game he coaches.

Last year his mission was to find ways to improve the Wildcats' running offense. He was pleased with the knowledge he gained last year, but took on a different mission this trip.

"I think we've been pretty good in the red zone, but last year we didn't run the ball really well, especially in the red zone," Grossner said. "I felt like I wanted more ideas that way. I think we are going to be pretty good running it and throwing it. I just wanted to expand our red zone offense, whether it is from the 30-yard line or the 2-yard line. If you get down there, you better come away with points, so you better have a lot of ideas for many different defenses."

Grossner dissected films of several NFL teams to come up with ideas for Baker's red zone offense. He came away with many ideas and strategies that he hopes to add to his team.

Since returning from the trip, he has been trying to apply everything he learned into his system and get back to his own job.

"I could spend a lot more time than four or five days there, but there is work to be done back here as well," Grossner said. "You kind of lose touch with your own program when you dive into someone else's. It is good in a way to get away from your program and get some new ideas, but it's also nice to get back and implement some of those ideas."

One final strategy he learned from his trip was increasing the speed and activity during practice. He hopes an increased practice speed will better prepare his players for game days.

"I am a big tempo guy in practice," he said. "I like it fast paced. I don't like any jogging around. Boy, when you get to the NFL, especially Mike's practices, they are high tempo. Everybody is moving and everybody is going. The more you practice that way, you are going to play that way. The game on Saturday does speed up and the urgency to do things fast is there on Saturday."

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